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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:27 pm  Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah Reply with quote

This is a reedited version of one of my first posts on this forum, from five years ago. I think it bears repeating.

A word before I begin:

This post is NOT an attack on Christianity; nor is this post an invitation to debate. This post is intended to EXPLAIN something that very many non-Jews, including many Christians but also including many others, do not, apparently, understand.

Jews, as a rule, do not comment on the truth or falsehood of any other faith, and that includes the Christian faith; we have no right. We only claim to know how, in the words of our tradition, God chose to speak to US. If He chose to speak to another people in another manner, that is no business of ours, and we have no warrant to say that He did not. Only in the matter of literally worshiping idols as divine beings do we pronounce judgment, and that is rather rare in the modern world.

The battle has never been between Christians and Jews, anyway. We are on the same side. On the other side are today's idol-worshippers -- those who worship things; money, power, fame, gratification, status. May we both always remember that.

This post is also not addressed to atheists. I have spoken on the radically different theology (insofar as it exists) of the Jewish religion elsewhere, and many times noted the fact that very many Jews ARE atheists; but all of those issues, and the debates and discussions connected thereto, are not for this thread, and I will not be dealing with them here.

This post is on the rather more limited topic of why the Jews did not, and do not, accept Jesus as our Messiah.

That some few have, and do, does not matter. Peace to them, but there are reasons why very few Jews who are familiar with and committed to their faith and tradition ever have, or ever will, believe in Jesus. This post is an effort to explain some of the most important of those reasons. If you do not agree with them, that is your right, but these matters are not, for Jews, open to debate or argument.

To begin, then:

Jesus, to put it plainly, simply did not perform the very specific actions that the Messiah was expected to do. There can be no "wiggle room" here; the tradition has been constant for, quite literally, thousands of years, and it has not changed.

The issue was never that there were certain "prophecies" that the Messiah had to "fulfill," as many seem to think; most of the “prophecies” which it is claimed that Jesus fulfilled were never considered “prophecies” by Jews in the first place (the very term has a different meaning in the Jewish religion, which is only occasionally related to “foretelling the future”). The Messiah was never to be identified by “prophecy”; he was to be identified by the PERFORMANCE of certain concrete, real-world actions. To do them was to be the Messiah, and the meaning of the word "Messiah" was "the man who does these things."

Jesus did not do them. He was not the Messiah. There is no "therefore," because the phrases are synonymous.

Jesus fulfilled one and only one attribute of the Messiah; he was of the tribe of Judah. Much is made of this in two of the Gospels, Matthew and Luke, with elaborate genealogies given for Mary, and, oddly, for Joseph.

Other than that, St. Paul and the Gospels to the contrary, Jesus did nothing expected of the Messiah. Three such expectations will suffice for our purposes: (1) The Messiah was to be a military and/or a political leader, an actual, rightful King who would restore the line of David to the throne of Israel and reign in Jerusalem as the actual, literal earthly monarch of the Jewish nation. (2) He would restore the political independence of the land of Israel and free it from foreign rule. (3) Most importantly, he would institute a reign of perfect peace, justice, liberty and piety that would shortly extend over all the earth -- in THIS world and THIS life; not in a symbolic or “spiritual” way, but in literal, present human history. This last is, as I say, the most important task of all; the Messiah would institute the Messianic Age. He was named for it, and it was named for him. The two would come together, or not at all. They were, and remain, one.

It seems rather clear that none of these occurred, and most glaringly the last, which was and has always been the most important sign and task of the Messiah. The short answer, for many Jews, to the question "Why don't you believe in Jesus?" is "Oy! Look around!" The Messiah has not come.

Another issue is that Jesus claimed (or it was claimed for him) that he had power and authority that no Jew could or would claim for any man, and power and authority far beyond any that were ever attributed to the coming Messiah. These claims were and are alien to Judaism, and in fact often blasphemous from a Jewish point of view. It was even claimed that Jesus was God incarnate, that a human being was, in fact and truth, God Almighty Himself.

It would be hard to think of an idea more repugnant to Jews, then or now. The oldest and most fundamental and nonnegotiable tenet of Judaism is that God is One, which means a good deal more than "one God." Among other things, it means that God is unique and indivisible, and shares His Essence and Being with no one and nothing. He is Alone. He is One.

It would be easier for Jews to begin chowing down on ham-and-Swiss sandwiches on Yom Kippur than to accept the claim that a man could be, in any sense, God. The Messiah was never conceived to be anything other than an ordinary mortal man; anointed by God, to be sure, but no more a God himself than King David was. There is no hint of such a thing in any Jewish tradition; it is about as likely as the High Priest carving a stone idol and placing it in the Holy of Holies. It was, and remains, quite literally unthinkable. (The one -- count ‘em, ONE -- verse from Scripture that is commonly given as proof that this notion DID have a part in Jewish tradition is, without apology, a gross misreading and mistranslation of the passage in question; and it is also unique. The idea that such a radical departure from the ancient tenets of the Jewish religion would not be known and even heavily emphasized throughout Jewish teachings over the centuries is more than a little ludicrous.)

Second, Jesus was said to be the literal son of God. This was way beyond bizarre. The idea that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Moses and Sinai, could or would come down to earth and father a human child is as foreign to Judaism as temple prostitution. That is a Greek idea, not a Jewish one -- consider Zeus and Hercules -- and it may be no coincidence that Paul was speaking to Greeks, not Jews, when he formulated it. There has never been anything within a light-year of that idea anywhere in all the enormous tradition and long history of the Jewish people. It is, again, unthinkable:

Third, Jesus claimed the power and authority to forgive sins.

All sins.

Now this is more difficult, because this is not widely known: Jews do not believe that God Himself has that power. God can forgive sins against Himself--ritual offenses, broken vows, and so on--but no more; a sin against another human must be forgiven by that person, or not at all. (This is why there can be no forgiveness for murder. The only one with the power to forgive is dead. This is also why the Jews of today cannot "forgive" the Holocaust. You must ask the six million for that forgiveness; we have no right to give it.)

By claiming this power, Jesus was not claiming to be coequal with God, but in fact greater than God. No wonder some tore their robes when they heard him speak.

And again, as if all this were not enough -- it was claimed that Jesus took on a role that had never been contemplated by any Jew from Abraham onward, a role that was not necessary and was, again, alien to the whole of Jewish teachings and traditions from the beginning to the present day -- the role of “Savior.” it is claimed that Jesus was the sacrifice that saves all men from their sins, and that this salvation is accessed by believing in it.

This seems simple; but for Jews, there are no less than six separate problems here.

First, the idea that people need to be saved from their sins in the first place. Jews have never believed in "Original Sin," nor that all people are born sinful. We believe that everyone has an impulse to do good, and an impulse to do evil, and that these remain with us all our lives; our job is to follow the first and resist (or redirect) the second to the best of our ability.

Second, St. Paul to the contrary, Jews have never taught, nor do we believe, that we are obligated to fulfill "the whole of the Law" or face eternal damnation. We believe that, since God made us, He knows our imperfection and our weakness, and does not demand that we be perfect and without fault or flaw. That would be the act of an unjust God, and we do not believe that God is unjust.

Third, Jews do not believe that any human can bear the sins of another. That principle is underlined in the Torah over and over again. Each man bears his own sins, and that cannot be changed. Sins are forgiven through prayer, repentance, and “deeds of lovingkindness.” No blood is necessary.

Fourth, we do not believe that a "sacrifice" is necessary to obtain forgiveness for sins, whether animal or human (and the idea of a human sacrifice is so far from any Jewish belief or practice that it is barely comprehensible that anyone would even propose it as a possibility). It is true that animal sacrifices were performed in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, but it is clear throughout the Torah and the Prophets that the sacrifice itself was meaningless without the repentance and devotion of the individual human heart.

Fifth, in Judaism, "belief" accomplishes precisely nothing by itself. There is no Creed in Judaism, no specified set of acceptable beliefs. What one "believes" is all but insignificant next to what one does, and no amount of "belief" cancels or ameliorates the results of one's actions. Believing the proper "doctrines" in Judaism is utterly irrelevant to anything at all.

A concrete example, put simply: if I am in need, what do I care what you "believe"? Will you help me, or not? Nothing else matters.

Sixth, Jews are not even certain that there is a Heaven at all. Judaism has rather little concern with the afterlife; it isn't mentioned in the Torah, and belief in it seems to have been entirely absent from its teachings in the early years of our religion. Even those Jews who do believe in Heaven spend little time or energy thinking and talking about it -- and there is no belief in an eternal fiery Hell at all, anywhere in all of Jewish history or tradition. The point of the Jewish religion is THIS life in THIS world. The next, we leave to God. “Salvation,” in the Christian sense of “going to Heaven,” is a non-issue for Jews. It is not even a peripheral interest, let alone a central principle.

As you can see, though Judaism and Christianity share an ethic, basic values, and many religious practices, as well as (in part) common literature, our views of the nature and structure of the relationship between God and man, the nature and importance of sin and the means of its forgiveness, the significance of the afterlife, and many other matters, are so profoundly different that they really do constitute two entirely separate religions. That one was derived from the other, and that we share a large body of Scripture, no longer matters. We stand beside each other as brothers; but we have long since taken separate paths. We ought to respect one another and work together where our ideals and ethics converge in the real world -- which is almost everywhere. Where our beliefs differ, we should agree to disagree and leave each other alone.

One more note: It is wholly illegitimate and improper for a follower of any faith to attempt to dictate to a follower of another what his beliefs OUGHT to be, then castigate him because they do not follow his prescription. No one has any warrant to point out passages of "prophecy" in our own Scriptures that we do not, and have never, read as such, and overrule the traditions and beliefs that we have held for more than three thousand years--and tell us what we ought to think and believe. No one has that right.

We have no warrant to deny that Jesus is your Savior, or to deny that, for you, any belief you may hold about him is true. That is between you and God, and is none of our business; for all any Jew knows, those beliefs are true and correct for Christians and God will honor them. Jesus may very well be YOUR Messiah, even though he is not ours. That is not for us to say.

But in the same way, it is not your right to insist that we abandon our own beliefs and convictions in favor of an understanding of our own Scriptures that we have never held. As I say; this matter is not open to debate. This determination was made by my people two thousand years ago, and it is reaffirmed in every generation.

Thank you for reading. May we all work together for the good of the Kingdom of God and forgive each other our disagreements.

I'll close with a saying from the Talmud. When the sages of old disagreed and could find no way to reconcile their differences, they would often allow both rulings to stand as equally acceptable options in Jewish law. When asked how this was possible, it was said that "When Elijah comes, he will explain which of us was right--or why we both were."

In that spirit, I'll also offer this: I have said for many years that, when (if) the Messiah finally comes, the Jews will look up and say, “You’re here!” the Christians will look up and say, “You’re back!” -- and then we’ll all hug each other and laugh about it.

Peace to all.

Charles
Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 101: Wed May 21, 2014 10:15 pm
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[Replying to post 100 by Artur Axmann]

A non sequitur, of which only you know the meaning. Unless you'd care to explain it, of course.

On second thought, don't bother.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 102: Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:45 pm
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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

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[Replying to post 1 by cnorman18]

I've got to agree. I've been doing research-well such as it is, and came up with the obvious conclusion that Jesus is not the Messiah.

Jesus --> Iesus, or Ie Zeus. Which means "Son of Zeus."

It goes against the idea that Jesus comes from Joshua. But look at the linguistic mangling you need to do to make the transformation. e needs to become o, a needs to become ua, and if you say "ssss," you'll note the only thing in common it has with "sh" is the English convention of the "s," ie it "sh" is not an "s" sound.

And it makes perfect sense along with your idea. Jesus must be a Roman construct, possibly their attempt to take over Judaism with a foreign god, Zeus.

Not to divide the comment, but I have also been toying with the demi-god thing: Isn't that a blasphemy, and to be mundane, wouldn't half of the DNA have to be God's, and so beg many many questions?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 103: Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:14 pm
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[Replying to post 1 by cnorman18]
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The issue was never that there were certain "prophecies" that the Messiah had to "fulfill," as many seem to think; most of the “prophecies” which it is claimed that Jesus fulfilled were never considered “prophecies” by Jews in the first place (the very term has a different meaning in the Jewish religion, which is only occasionally related to “foretelling the future”). The Messiah was never to be identified by “prophecy”; he was to be identified by the PERFORMANCE of certain concrete, real-world actions. To do them was to be the Messiah, and the meaning of the word "Messiah" was "the man who does these things."


That sounds quite contradictory, if there was things that Messiah should do to be recognized as Messiah, then there were prophesy, an idea what Messiah should be, when he comes.

Quote:
(1) The Messiah was to be a military and/or a political leader, an actual, rightful King who would restore the line of David to the throne of Israel and reign in Jerusalem as the actual, literal earthly monarch of the Jewish nation. (2) He would restore the political independence of the land of Israel and free it from foreign rule. (3) Most importantly, he would institute a reign of perfect peace, justice, liberty and piety that would shortly extend over all the earth -- in THIS world and THIS life; not in a symbolic or “spiritual” way, but in literal, present human history.


Could you tell me, on what basis that was expected?

Quote:
It was even claimed that Jesus was God incarnate, that a human being was, in fact and truth, God Almighty Himself.


I hope that Jews would get the knowledge that Jesus didn’t claim to be God. He directly said that God is greater than him and that he speaks what God had commanded him to speak.

You heard how I told you, 'I go away, and I come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I said 'I am going to my Father;' for the Father is greater than I.
John 14:28
This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
John 17:3
For I spoke not from myself, but the Father who sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. I know that his commandment is eternal life. The things therefore which I speak, even as the Father has said to me, so I speak."
John 12:49-50

Quote:
Jews do not believe that God Himself has that power.


I think it is interesting, if the God of Jews is not all powerful.

Quote:
Third, Jews do not believe that any human can bear the sins of another. That principle is underlined in the Torah over and over again. Each man bears his own sins, and that cannot be changed. Sins are forgiven through prayer, repentance, and “deeds of lovingkindness.” No blood is necessary.


Sorry, if you have already answered, but how you explain the animal sacrifices that were taught in Law of Moses?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 104: Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:48 pm
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[Replying to post 103 by 1213]

CNorman does not hang out here much anymore. I can contact him on Facebook but I doubt that he will want to get embroiled in this topic at this time.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 105: Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:06 pm
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McCulloch wrote:

CNorman does not hang out here much anymore. I can contact him on Facebook but I doubt that he will want to get embroiled in this topic at this time.


Ok, thanks for telling. Maybe someone else could answer to my questions.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 106: Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:36 pm
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Re: Why Jesus was not the Jewish Messiah

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[Replying to post 102 by Willum]

So I have recently been on a different forum where I am forced to reverse the position.
Jesus must have been the messiah. The OT must have been subject to misinterpretations, etc., due to it's nature.

The NT, having been subject to many modern witnesses and survive a scrutiny the OT can not.
When it comes to accuracy, the OT must defer to the NT, just as a older Journal must make way to a newer in the face of more accurate evidence.

The rationale is very simple:
If the messiah showed up today, based on OT criteria, he would be contested base on interpretation of the criteria, real or not.

So the only way for a messiah to shine through is by demonstrating magic powers, such as those claimed by the NT.

Even this evidence is contested!

Every year Jesus become exponentially more likely to be the messiah.
The logic is this:
If Jews converted to Christianity, and Jesus is messiah, then eternal bliss.
If Jews convert and it is wrong, then they can hardly be blamed for conversion given the time and extraordinary circumstances of Jesus.
If they fail to convert, well, it's been 2000 years since anyone showed a glimmer. At some point a decision must be made. The NT, reviewed and contestable by historians, and not done so. Or the OT, which has no witnesses to any significant event: Moses on a mountain (one man), Noah after the flood (5 men), etc..

Much of the OT was conferred verbally, and verbals can not be relied on within minutes, much less millenia.

Jews were promised a messiah. There is some probability that is was Jesus, even based on the OT. Interpretations can be misinterpreted, poorly scribed, based on hopes and desires of the scribes. etc..
That probability increases with the lack of another viable candidate. That candidate can not be a mere mortal: He would never be accepted, therefor the criteria must be re-examined.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 107: Wed Feb 18, 2015 9:28 am
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Willum wrote:

[Replying to post 102 by Willum]

So I have recently been on a different forum where I am forced to reverse the position.
Jesus must have been the messiah. The OT must have been subject to misinterpretations, etc., due to it's nature.

The NT, having been subject to many modern witnesses and survive a scrutiny the OT can not.
When it comes to accuracy, the OT must defer to the NT, just as a older Journal must make way to a newer in the face of more accurate evidence.

The rationale is very simple:
If the messiah showed up today, based on OT criteria, he would be contested base on interpretation of the criteria, real or not.

So the only way for a messiah to shine through is by demonstrating magic powers, such as those claimed by the NT.

Even this evidence is contested!

Every year Jesus become exponentially more likely to be the messiah.
The logic is this:
If Jews converted to Christianity, and Jesus is messiah, then eternal bliss.
If Jews convert and it is wrong, then they can hardly be blamed for conversion given the time and extraordinary circumstances of Jesus.
If they fail to convert, well, it's been 2000 years since anyone showed a glimmer. At some point a decision must be made. The NT, reviewed and contestable by historians, and not done so. Or the OT, which has no witnesses to any significant event: Moses on a mountain (one man), Noah after the flood (5 men), etc..

Much of the OT was conferred verbally, and verbals can not be relied on within minutes, much less millenia.

Jews were promised a messiah. There is some probability that is was Jesus, even based on the OT. Interpretations can be misinterpreted, poorly scribed, based on hopes and desires of the scribes. etc..
That probability increases with the lack of another viable candidate. That candidate can not be a mere mortal: He would never be accepted, therefor the criteria must be re-examined.



One key peice you are missing is that the definition of the Messiah in Judiasm is different that the Christian interpretation. Sorry, but Christians do not have the
authority to tell Jews what to expect. Also, expecting a MEssiah is not part of the dogma of Judaism. Many Jews see more of a Messianic Age, rather than a star messiah. It is an ideal that all Jews should strive for, rather than a single person.

So, if you want to be Christian, go for it. However, The Jewish faith will continue one.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 108: Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:32 pm
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Well, yeah, but look at the number of witnesses to the old testament. No established historians, and many stories only have a handful of witnesses who communicated that truth verbally. Even the most conscientious and forthright individual would generate large errors.

You've seen those studies where a message is communicated around a room...

So so you know any good resources for a Jew who wants to accept the infinitely more probably reality that modern scholars circa ~0BC were adequately able to document events?

Or acknowledge that every year that passes makes it exponentially more likely that the savior has already come and gone?

Thanks!

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 109: Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:50 pm
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Willum wrote:

[Replying to post 107 by Goat]

Well, yeah, but look at the number of witnesses to the old testament. No established historians, and many stories only have a handful of witnesses who communicated that truth verbally. Even the most conscientious and forthright individual would generate large errors.

You've seen those studies where a message is communicated around a room...

So so you know any good resources for a Jew who wants to accept the infinitely more probably reality that modern scholars circa ~0BC were adequately able to document events?

Or acknowledge that every year that passes makes it exponentially more likely that the savior has already come and gone?

Thanks!


What eye witnesses?? I mean, there are a CLAIM for eye witnesses, but ,,well, none of the gospels, or books in the New Testament was actually written by an eye witness.

Not only that, but , well the Jewish faith doesn't care about the claims that the New Testament makes. It just isn't important.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 110: Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:27 pm
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I don't intend to pick up EVERY conversation that I left behind, but I thought it mere courtesy to respond to this one, even if is almost a year later:

1213 wrote:

[Replying to post 1 by cnorman18]
Quote:

The issue was never that there were certain "prophecies" that the Messiah had to "fulfill," as many seem to think; most of the “prophecies” which it is claimed that Jesus fulfilled were never considered “prophecies” by Jews in the first place (the very term has a different meaning in the Jewish religion, which is only occasionally related to “foretelling the future”). The Messiah was never to be identified by “prophecy”; he was to be identified by the PERFORMANCE of certain concrete, real-world actions. To do them was to be the Messiah, and the meaning of the word "Messiah" was "the man who does these things."


That sounds quite contradictory, if there was things that Messiah should do to be recognized as Messiah, then there were prophesy, an idea what Messiah should be, when he comes.

Of course. But the "prophecies" in question had to do with the substantive accomplishments of the Messiah, not with mere details of birth, riding donkeys, and that sort of thing. Saying "The Messiah will preside over a world of perfect peace, faith and justice" is not QUITE the same as saying "He will be born of a virgin in Bethlehem."
Quote:

Quote:
(1) The Messiah was to be a military and/or a political leader, an actual, rightful King who would restore the line of David to the throne of Israel and reign in Jerusalem as the actual, literal earthly monarch of the Jewish nation. (2) He would restore the political independence of the land of Israel and free it from foreign rule. (3) Most importantly, he would institute a reign of perfect peace, justice, liberty and piety that would shortly extend over all the earth -- in THIS world and THIS life; not in a symbolic or “spiritual” way, but in literal, present human history.


Could you tell me, on what basis that was expected?

Universal Jewish traditions and teachings of long standing (as in, of two or three thousand years). If you expect to find the teachings of Judaism in the Hebrew Bible, you're looking in the wrong place. That is also surprising to many Christians, but it is the case nevertheless.
Quote:

Quote:
It was even claimed that Jesus was God incarnate, that a human being was, in fact and truth, God Almighty Himself.


I hope that Jews would get the knowledge that Jesus didn’t claim to be God. He directly said that God is greater than him and that he speaks what God had commanded him to speak.
You heard how I told you, 'I go away, and I come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I said 'I am going to my Father;' for the Father is greater than I.
John 14:28
This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
John 17:3
For I spoke not from myself, but the Father who sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. I know that his commandment is eternal life. The things therefore which I speak, even as the Father has said to me, so I speak."
John 12:49-50

It is, without question, a tenet of the Christian religion that Jesus was God Incarnate. As the Nicene Creed has it:

"...one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made."

If Jesus himself never said that -- and I agree with you -- then your argument is with the Christian denominations, not with me or with Judaism.
Quote:

Quote:
Jews do not believe that God Himself has that power.


I think it is interesting, if the God of Jews is not all powerful.

It may be a surprise to you, but Jews do believe that God's power is limited in certain ways. Whether He chooses to limit Himself in those ways, no one professes to know; but that is the case, whether you knew it or not.
Quote:

Quote:
Third, Jews do not believe that any human can bear the sins of another. That principle is underlined in the Torah over and over again. Each man bears his own sins, and that cannot be changed. Sins are forgiven through prayer, repentance, and “deeds of lovingkindness.” No blood is necessary.


Sorry, if you have already answered, but how you explain the animal sacrifices that were taught in Law of Moses?

Here is a link to the Jewish Virtual Library that might help you. The salient passage, in the present context, is as follows:
"The atoning aspect of Karbanot [sacrifices] is carefully circumscribed. For the most part, Karbanot only expiate unintentional sins, that is, sins committed because a person forgot that this thing was a sin. No atonement is needed for violations committed under duress or through lack of knowledge, and for the most part, Karbanot cannot atone for a malicious, deliberate sin. In addition, Karbanot have no expiating effect unless the person making the offering sincerely repents his or her actions before making the offering, and makes restitution to any person who was harmed by the violation."

Salvation, in the Christian sense of "being saved from Sin and going to Heaven," has no analogue in the Jewish religion.

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